Nearly five years after Tamir Rice was killed by an overzealous cop, the police union involved was looking to vindicate the officer who fired the fatal shots into the 12-year-old boy. The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA) on Friday filed an appeal to overturn the termination of former officer Timothy Loehmann, arguing that he was fired for something not related to the shooting.
“Officer Loehmann has been treated unfairly by the city and the arbitration,” Police Union president Jeff Follmer told a local Fox affiliate after the appeal was filed. “We are hoping whatever county judge receives this appeal will go on the merits of fact and not political pressure.”
In 2017, Loehmann was fired when it came to light that he had resigned from a previous department after six months when several supervisors determined he was unfit to be a police officer. That information was not disclosed on his application with the Cleveland Police Department, which an arbitrator determined was a lie and upheld the city’s decision to fire the disgraced officer in December.
Loehmann had only been with Cleveland for eight months when he shot Rice, who was playing in a park with an Airsoft pellet gun, in November 2014. A resident called 9-1-1 believing the gun may have been real. Loehmann and his partner Officer Frank Garmback responded to the call. Video of the incident caused widespread outrage not just because of Rice’s age, but also because he was shot within seconds of police arriving on the scene. The police cruiser was still moving when Loehmann shot Rice on the spot.
Garmback was merely suspended and Loehmann was cleared from any charges in the shooting. Another police department in Ohio hired Loehmann last year. Bellaire Police Chief Richard Flanagan said at the time that he hired Loehmann because he believes “he deserves a second chance. He was cleared of any and all wrongdoing. He was never charged. It’s over and done with.”
The attorney for the Rice family, Subodh Chandra, released a statement following news of the appeal.
“It is most unfortunate that the CPPA continues to insist it’s okay for a law enforcement officer to lie on his employment application—that is, continues to embrace lawlessness in law enforcement,” Chandra said. “Until the police union comprehends its officers are not above the law, none of us are safe. And Tamir? With a police union as lawless as that, the child never stood a chance.”
After several police brutality cases made headlines, the Department of Justice conducted a series of investigations into several police departments. The DOJ began their investigation of Cleveland in 2013 and released a scathing report in 2015. According to CNN, it was found that Cleveland police had been using unnecessary and unreasonable force at a significant rate, employing “dangerous tactics” that put the community at risk.